“There is a mystery around cheesecake that should not be there. Cheesecakes are a wonderful choice to make. They can be made in advance and, more important, they are very impressive! By following a few simple techniques, it is one of the easiest things to make.” – Melanie Underwood, Making Artisan Cheesecake (publishing August 2015)
If you’ve been avoiding making your own cheesecake because of this “mystery”, give this recipe from Melanie’s new book a try. I bet you’ll find it’s easier than you think.
Ricotta and Honey Cheesecake
Excerpted from Making Artisan Cheesecake by Melanie Underwood
This classic Italian cheesecake using all ricotta gives it its crumbly texture and is a perfect ending to a meal. It is not overly sweet, so raisins could be added to the batter to make it even more of a classic. There is no crust for this recipe.
3 pounds (1362 g) ricotta
1/4 cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (255 g) honey
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange zest
Sautéed Figs (recipe follows)
Fruit Sauce made with raspberries (recipe follows)
To make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 325ºF (170ºC, or gas mark 3).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the ricotta and flour on low speed until softened, scraping down the sides of the bowl, underneath the paddle, and the paddle frequently with a rubber spatula, about 2 minutes. Add the honey and continue mixing on low and scraping down the sides, bottom, and paddle until there are no visible lumps. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until combined, about 10 seconds after each egg. Stir in the orange zest.
Prepare the springform pan for a water bath (download full instructions on water baths here). Place the springform pan in a large cake pan or a roasting pan (one that is around the same height or lower than your springform pan). Pour the batter over the crust and level it with a small offset spatula. Place in the oven and pour almost boiling water into the roasting pan (it should come up halfway around the sides of the pan). Bake for about 1 hour, until the cheesecake is firm around the edges, but still jiggly in the center (the jiggly part should be about the size of a quarter).
Remove from oven and remove the cheesecake from the water bath. Remove the foil from the sides of the pan. Gently run a small sharp knife or small spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides. Allow to cool at room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (this will help the cheesecake set completely).
To unmold the cheesecake, gently run a small sharp knife or small spatula around the edges of the pan. Release the latch on the side of the pan and then lift the ring straight up. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To garnish: When ready to serve, plate each slice individually and place 2 sautéed fig halves next to the cheesecake.
Yield: One 10-inch (25 cm) cheesecake
Variation: Candied Citrus Cheesecake
Stir in 1/2 cup (120 g) chopped candied fruits when adding the orange zest.
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (80 g) honey
16 Black Mission figs, halved
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and honey over medium heat, until the butter is completely melted. Whisk together until combined, and then add the figs. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the figs are heated through. Remove from the heat.
Yield: 2 cups (500 g)
For these sauces, you can use any type of berry. If you use raspberries, use a fine strainer to remove the seeds. The amount of sugar should be adjusted depending on your personal taste and the sweetness of the fruit.
1 pound (454 g) fresh or frozen berries, quartered
1/4 to 1/3 cup (50 to 70 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice (optional)
In a medium-size saucepan, combine the berries, 1/4 cup (50 g) of the sugar, and the lemon juice; cook over medium heat until the berries are softened, about 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the sugar if necessary. If you need to add more sugar, reheat the sauce until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Place in a blender or food processor and process until completely smooth. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 g)